Thursday, June 01, 2006


My neighbor's backyard is hidden from others by a tall weathered palisade fence. The slats are tight together. They let no hint of what is behind them escape. But, from my window I can see over the fence. Just above the top I can see a mound against the opposite fence, a mound of incandescent orange poppies. From here they are a mass of outrageous color, an insane brilliant boundary splashed between and against the grey weathered fence and the green turf. My poppies have not bloomed yet. When they do they will explode in luscious pinks and purples and deep rich reds. The petals unfolding to reveal the fat black stamen waving their pistil legs at the sky like overturned spiders. But for now, I must be content to peek over the fence At the glorious color in my neighbor's yard.


This morning I sat on the back porch with a cup of coffee and a dog. I listened to a religious discussion between two mockingbirds. "Chikchikwarblewarblechirppwarble," said the one on top of the pine. "Chikwarblechikwarbledhirpchirpchirp," said the other from deep in the spruce. They repeated their arguments often, to uderscore the importance and veracity of their positions. "Oooo," said a mourning dove. "You tell 'em," said a flicker. But it was unclear which side they supported, A flash of red cut across the grass and dandelions, to land on the fence. "You're both full of ... " And with a flick of his tail the cardinal was gone. From a nearby rooftop, a small mob of crows laughed derisively, and went back to aerobatics practice. "How very dogmatic," I muttered, then apologized to my companion for any perceived slur. She looked at me with pity and acceptance of my failures. In the distance the hum of cars and trains urged me to hurry, "It's time to move, time to merge, time to ... quick, quick." I ignored it preferring the buddhist "ommmmm" of the bumblebees. My coffee gone, I rose from my seat. The dog rose beside me. I got more coffee, she got more water. "The bird in the pine," I said to her, "Was aggressive and too vehement. Which tends to make me doubt his position." She gave a short yip of affirmation, predictably preferring agreement to discussion. The cat, curled under the lilacs, abstained.